But I think he got something a little wrong here.
On top of that, we also know that researchers can change their stated goal, or \”primary outcome\”, after their trial has finished. You might do a trial on a blood pressure pill, for example, stating that you will look to see if it can reduce heart attacks, but find that it doesn\’t. Then you might retrospectively change the purpose of your study, ignore the heart attacks, pretend it was only ever about blood pressure, and glowingly report a reduction in blood pressure as if this was what you were always interested in. Or you might measure so many different things that some of them will show up as positive simply by chance.
The reason is this:
Researchers have found that the use of drug immediately after a stroke can reduce damage to brain cells by as much as two thirds.
Strokes are blood clots in the brain that starve the surrounding cells of oxygen eventually leading to their death and then to irrevocable brain damage.
The immediate injection of antibiotic minocycline protects the cells and reduces the swelling, saving many from losing brain cells.
It is particularly effective on nerve cells that process and transmit information in the brain.
Dr Cesar Borlongan from the University of South Florida, who led the team, said the drug was already available as it was used for acne and arthritis.
He said the results showed the technique could be much “more effective” than current treatments.
Now I agree that this was the result of a trial specifically to test this. But that\’s not quite my point.
If, in the course of spending that $800 million to design and test a drug the researchers find that it doesn\’t do what they thought it would, but it does do something else (like Viagra, not all that great at reducing angina, great at giving people stiffies) what are they supposed to do?
Throw away the $800 million and the evidence they\’ve collected?
Or say, hey, well, guess what we found out? Our acne treatment stops people dribbling and falling over after a stroke. Ain\’t that interesting?
Information is information, knowledge is knowledge: I\’m not sure it matters all that much what you were looking for. What you\’ve found is surely the most important part?